The Carolina Panthers were angry at themselves for allowing the New York Giants back in the game, but they saved most of their vitriol for Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
In the aftermath of what turned out to be a thrilling 38-35 victory over the Giants that raised their record to 14-0, the talk centered around Beckham, who amassed three personal fouls in a game that saw numerous skirmishes with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and another with cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
“What he did is on display,” Norman said. “You see what kind of player he is and you pull back the layers of skin and you really see what it is. Film don’t lie.”
What the film showed was Beckham dropping a sure touchdown on a long bomb from Eli Manning on the fourth play of the game, a route where he soundly beat Norman.
After that misstep, the Panthers seemed to get in the talented second-year receiver’s head, with Beckham finishing the first half with no catches and two drops. In the third quarter, Beckham received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after launching into Norman’s helmet away from the ball well after the play was over.
“We are out there playing football, we are competing,” Beckham responded when asked about the play after the game, refusing to address Norman specifically. “You are a competitor.”
While two fourth-quarter gains – a 40-yard reception and the game-tying 14-yard catch – obscured Beckham’s first three quarters on the stat sheet, the Panthers defenders had plenty say about his performance.
“If you’re gonna be Michael Jackson and go around and dance and play and do all the other stuff and not be a football player and not train the way you’re supposed to train, it goes to show,” said Norman, who later referred to Beckham as “a ballerina” for his dancing. “I hope I pulled back the mask.”
Finnegan went even further, channeling his own inner Ron Burgundy in the process.
“He may have something in his blood,” Finnegan said. “I don’t know, maybe it’s female-related. That’s the only thing I can think of.”
While the Panthers continued to return verbal shots at Beckham – as well as an Instagram post by Norman showing ODB making a one-handed grab of a giant “L” – safety Roman Harper saw the extracurriculars as part of the challenge of being 14-0.
“We’re getting everybody’s best punch,” he said. “That’s what happens when you’re on top of the mountain.”
Harper even decided he’d throw a question back at the reporters.
“Have you seen anybody smiling?” the 33-year-old asked as he looked around a locker room filled with 53 frowning players just two wins away from becoming only the third 16-0 team in NFL history.
“We’re 14-0,” Harper said. “We need to be happy because of that. Not many teams have made it this far. I’ve never done it. This is new for me and (expletive), man, we’re good and we’re gonna be better. This is the most disappointed 14-0 team and that’s a great thing.”
source: usatoday.com by Chris Strauss